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Robotic furniture could be the key to making your studio apartment feel bigger

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LOS ANGELES (Circa) -- Living in a studio can feel like a game of Tetris, especially when you have people over. The kitchen table chair you usually eat on has to be moved to the living room, but not before moving the coffee table out of the way to make room for all of your friends.

"If I have more than one person over, I'll move things out, and I'll bring in, like, a bench or a chair from the kitchen to seat more than two or three people," said Vanessa Gonzalez, who's been living in a studio in Los Angeles for 2.5 years.

It separates the space so that you can have two spaces at the same time. It can create a bedroom. It can create a walk-in closet.It can create an office.
Hasier Larrea, Ori Systems Founder and CEO

Ori Systems, a robotic furniture company, wants to make Gonzalez's life easier by rearranging the furniture for her. The Ori is a box-shaped robotic system that moves the furniture in your studio into three different configurations: bed, loung and wardrobe. All with the click of a button. It's very à la Transformers.

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The Ori transforming from wardrobe mode to lounge mode.

"The idea is that it’s a system that does a few tricks," says Hasier Larrea, the foudner and CEO of Ori Systems. "It separates the space so that you can have two spaces at the same time. It can create a bedroom. It can create a walk-in closet.It can create an office.”

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The Ori can split the room into two compartments, or one, depending on what you're doing.

The idea for Ori came to Larrea at the MIT Media Labs when Larrea was a graduate student.

"We realized that it’s not enough with just making micro-units and making units and apartments smaller. We had to bring technology so that we could make those smaller apartments feel and act like if they were much bigger," Larrea said.

The units are now available in developments in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. They're part of the "smart home" trend being seen in apartment buildings all over the country.

People's value of a home is still based on the square footage and the area.
Anthony Vulin, Owner of The Collective, a real estate company

"We're seeing more and more people are starting to use different lighting effects or Ring doorbells," said Anthony Vulin, who owns The Collective, a real estate company in Los Angeles.

Vulin says that while smart home technology is exciting and clients are definitely asking for it, it doesn't add much to a property's value.

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The Ori in lounge mode.

"People's value of a home is still based on the square footage and the area. The smart home devices are definitely going to make it more attractive," said Vulin.

Ori units currently go for $10,000 a piece, and some developers in Boston told Wired they estimate that it could increase the value of a studio lease by about $350 a month. For some studio dwellers, it's an expense worth considering.

"If it was like a brand new studio, like not in this particular [older] building, yes," said Nicole LaTorre who lives in a studio in Los Angeles. "I would be willing to pay more money for it."

Others not so much.

"That's not something I would invest in. Because of the whole idea of living in a studio is to be financially practical, I feel like it would negate that," Gonzalez said.

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